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Baker’s Oven

[ Roud 12877 ; VWML AW/2/25 ; Wiltshire 67 ; trad.]

Rosie Hood sang Baker’s Oven on her 2017 RootBeat CD, The Beautiful & the Actual. She noted:

An unusual old song with a number of bread based puns collected from James Trueman of Ashbrook by Alfred Williams and also found at Purton. Perhaps based on a local story as I haven’t found any versions elsewhere.


Rosie Hood sings Baker’s Oven

Job Jenkins was a baker, a very honest elf,
And by baking crust and crumb he made a tidy crust himself.
But Job he lived in better days when bills were freely paid
And bakers were thought honest men for bread was never weighed.

Success creates ambition in this world between the poles,
Job thirsted after office even though a master of the rolls.
Job’s patience it did not tire out as quickly did appear;
They very soon appointed him as Parish Overseer.

At length the tallow chandler the debt of nature paid,
And in his place, without delay, Job the churchwarden was made.
He soon declared that to his house a man must be a sinner
To toil for parish work and go without his parish dinner.

While strolling through the churchyard he saw some old tombstones
That long had marked the resting place of some poor old neighbour’s bones;
“These bodies have long gone to dust, the stone’s no use,” he said,
“They’ll mend the bottom to my oven and improve my bread.”

Tom Snooks, the parish mason, a very sporting blade,
Who in racehorses and the dead he had done a decent trade;
To him Job gave the order, regardless of amount,
And charged it to the parish in his next half year’s account.

The job was done, the bread was baked, Job in his highest glee
Goes up at early morning so that he might the improvement see;
But soon as drawn he dropped the peal with horror on his looks,
And roared out like a madman and knocked down Tommy Snooks.

“Get up, you wretch! and come and see the blunders you have made!
Your tombstone bottoms sure will prove a deathblow to my trade.”
He took him to the bakehouse where a curious sight was seen,
The words on every loaf were marked that on the tombstone been.

One quarter had, “In memory of”, another, “Here to pine”,
A third, “Departed from this life at the age of ninety-nine”.
A batch of rolls when they were done said this, “Our time is past,
Thus day by day we pine away and come to this at last.”

Next came the cottage loaves, and there, upon the bottoms plain,
“We trust in Him that made us and we hope to rise again.”
On every loaf that they drew out all from that oven door
There on the bread each one could read the letters on the floor.

Now, Snooks he turned away his head, his laughter to conceal,
He said he thought it was a nobby way of making a bread seal;
Says Job, “Thy seal has sealed my fate, how can I sell my bread
To feed the living when it bears the memory of the dead?”